The Return of Die Mensch Maschine
Live at the 'Stop Sellafield' concert, Manchester GMEX - 19.6.92
Text by Ian Floyd. Photo by IC. Note: The photo is actually from the Leicester Polytechnic gig.
On entering the giant GMEX Centre complex on a warm Friday tea-time, it was hard to believe that fifteen years ago, I used to park my car in here every morning before going to work in the office. In those days it was desolate. Red brick walls, blackened by time (and exhaust fumes no doubt). The glass roof dirtied by years of uncleaned muck, grime and pigeon crap.
Over a decade, and a few million pounds refurbishment work later, and what a difference. A huge hall, overlooked by a huge stage. Victorian architectural achievement brought into the modern world.
We entered the vast theatre at around 6.15 pm, through the foyer full of anti-Sellafield paraphernalia. On reaching the huge, seated area, we could already hear the bleeps of the Kraftwerk computer fill the air. It did not take us very long to find our seats - Block Z, right at the back! We were at least the length of three football pitches from the stage.
Without warning, the massive, black curtains opened and 'The Robots' danced away to the opening number. We noticed that the security bods weren't bothered about people making their way to the front, through all the section barriers. Up we got, a quick sprint through the various sections of seats towards the stage and we ended up reasonably near the front.
By the time we were shunted into some seats by the yellow bibbed security chaps, Kraftwerk had entered the proceedings and were into their rendition of 'Numbers'.
Following straight after was 'Computer World' and I noticed the audience for the first time. Most were taking a polite interest, some were talking away to each other, others were questioning others about their seating arrangements! Very off-putting when you're trying to watch your favourite group.
'The Model' came next. A few recognised the number 1 hit from 1982 and a few even managed to get up and dance.
By the time 'Tour De France' came along, many had started drifting away, no doubt to go to the bar or to buy some U2 merchandise! 'Autobahn' brought a few handclaps and recognition from the not very intrigued audience...
I thought 'Radioactivity' might have raised some sort of response, as this was what the concert was all about - but the apathy remained.
The excellent 'Trans-Europe Express' was performed - then that was it. The curtains closed and that was that - no encores! Emptiness! Less than 300 people watched the group, in a vast expanse that 9000 people would later fill to watch U2.
On the positive side, it was good to see Kraftwerk playing back in Manchester only eleven months after their last visit!
Unfortunately, they were paying 'lip service' to unadventurous Radio 1 listeners who were only there to see the supergroup who were to appear as the headline act, four hours later.
In conclusion, my advice to Kraftwerk would be - DON'T DO THIS AGAIN!
Set list for Manchester GMEX:
Updated: 16 : 5 : 2010